Massive LED Display Makes Use of Reused Soda Bottles

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What better way to make a giant LED display than out of old empties and bottle crates? This is the Mate Light (pronounced Mah-Tay).

We were first introduced to the ever popular Club-Mate soda at one of the first hackerspaces we visited during our Hackerspacing in Europe Tour. It’s a soft drink produced in Germany, which seems to be the exclusive non-alcoholic drink of choice for almost all hackerspaces in Western Europe. The spaces in the Netherlands and Belgium would even make road trips to Germany just to load up a van with the drink to bring back home. Personally we didn’t really understand what was so special about it, but maybe we just didn’t drink enough!

Anyway, this impressive display makes use of 640 empties arranged in 4 rows of 8 crates for a decent 16 x 40 resolution. Each bottle is wrapped in aluminum foil and contains one RGB LED with a WS2801 driver. Each row of crates is connected to a TI Stellaris Launchpad, which has four hardware SPI interfaces — conveniently the number of rows of crates used! From there, an ancient ThinkPad T22 laptop runs the control program over USB to the microcontroller board. Their first software implementation used a Python script which was painfully slow — they’re now putting the finishing touches on using a C script instead.

Stick around to see the display in all of its awesomeness.

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LED sexting belt buckle

For some ungodly reason, [Scott] has a friend that wanted a ‘sexting themed’ Halloween costume. We won’t try to make any presumptions of the creativity or mental stability of [Scott]‘s friend, but the SMS scrolling LED belt buckle he came up with is pretty cool.

The belt is based around a $13 scrolling LED belt buckle [Scott] found online. There was a problem with the belt buckle, though. Thirteen dollars means [Scott] didn’t get a whole lot of features with his buckle, so there are only 3 buttons on the entire device: letter up, letter down, and enter. Instead of pressing a button 80 times to get a lowercase ‘z,’ an Arduino was thrown into the mix to take care of all the button pressing.

The Arduino sketch could now input any message into the belt buckle in a matter of seconds. All that was left to do is taking care of the SMS to text part of the build. For this, [Scott] used the Sparkfun USB Host Shield and a custom Android app. Whenever an SMS is received on the phone, the message is sent through the USB shield to the Arduino and output on the belt buckle.

We won’t make any assumptions about the content of the messages during the Halloween party, but at least the video demo of the build is family friendly. Check it out after the break.

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